Saturday, December 22, 2007

Legs. Hating. Me.

This morning I did my farthest long run -- 11 miles. That is the farthest I will go until the day of the half-marathon. Until then, I'll be tapering with next Saturday 10 miles, and 8 miles the Saturday after that and so on. But my quads/thighs got so tired and achy the last stretch. I swear I could hear them yelling at me to stop putting them through such pain. Not sure how I will get through the 13 mile race. And I'm really not sure how I'll fare after when my feet and upper legs will be throbbing like they are now. I just want to sit on my ass all day but you are supposed to move around throughout the day so you don't have a build-up of lactic acid in your upper legs--whatever that means. All I can say is thank goodness I am NOT doing a full 26.2-mile marathon. Phew!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas cupcakes

Not many things give me little moments of giddiness. But there's just something about making cupcakes that show some thought and a tad bit more artistry than your supermarket cupcake that makes me excited. We had an office potluck today. I thought about making something more food-ish like potstickers or a salad. But come on! It's Christmas--a time to be festive. So, of course I picked a time-consuming recipe in terms of the effort and money that would go into decorating it. Plus, last night I still went to a friend's for an impromptu dinner party though I hadn't decorated any of the cupcakes yet. Well, I thought I was going to find the decorating really tiresome but it was so much fun! Very therapeutic too. And the cupcakes turned out so much better than I thought. I think they look better in person than in my pictures.

I got the idea from a recipe book and decided to make my forest look as wintry as I could. I dusted them with powdered sugar, edible glitter and rainbow non-pareils (sprinkles) to look kind of like lights. One of my co-workers wants to "commission" me to make some for her Christmas gathering. I thought she was kidding. But she's serious. Asking me for something like that is definitely one way to flatter me quickly. Anyway, I'm probably going to do it as soon as I figure out how to budget my time. Good thing I'm training for this half marathon. It's the only way I can survive baking so much with a less guilty conscience.

P.S. Forgot to explain that I made the trees by frosting around an ice cream cone. That isn't all frosting!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

5K results are in!

I can't believe I've been up since 5:30 a.m. and going to a funeral post-race was just weird. But I don't want to dwell on that. I just checked how I did on my 5K (3 miles). The assigned race number you wear comes with a perforated tag. The tag has a bar code. I was told there was a machine that scans it as you cross the finish line. You hand off your tag and they post the results online. I just checked...and...

Drum Roll please....

I finished in 28:34...and I get an award for placing third in my age group (25-29).
Females 25-29 results

However, I'm sure in another age group, I would've placed like seventh or something. But whatever. I shall bask in the glory of this small achievement for a bit. I can't wait for this half-marathon to come...only because I miss the junk food.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And it's only Wednesday!

I still feel like I have a whole week's worth of stuff ahead of me. I found out on Monday that a distant uncle of mine (one of my mom's second cousins) who lives here in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale passed away last Saturday from a sudden heart attack. :( I only met him a few times but he seemed nice, though extremely quiet. He owned a small Chinese restaurant in a Glendale strip mall. Even though I didn't interact with him much, I want to go to the funeral. It's more about being there for the family and showing that I care. The service is this Sunday at 9 a.m. in Scottsdale. I found this out the day after I registered for a competitive 5K that morning in another part of Scottsdale. The start time is 7:35 a.m. Luckily, my friend Alyson, who doesn't live too far from the mortuary, graciously told me to come and use her house as a stop to freshen up, shower, change, etc. So...I am going to try and run 5K or 3ish miles in less than an hour which I'm sure I can do and then high-tail it from Alyson's.

I really do not like going to funerals. In some ways, I dislike going to Chinese funerals even more. They are really superstitious and I have a feeling if you tried to insert a little humor in a eulogy to relieve tension, the older folks would throw a fit. Everything has to maintain a certain decorum and trying to relieve the tension would probably jeopardize the deceased person's chances of going to the next world. I just think it's ok to crack a smile if it pertains to remembering good things about the person.

Tomorrow, I have to go to the VA Medical Center and interview two survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack. Actually, I'm looking forward to that. It should be interesting, talking to people who witnessed such a catastrophic and unbelievable event. The hard part is running back to the office to write it all up in one afternoon. I'll be adding what I get to what I have from my phone interview with another survivor today. Gosh, someday, some young journalist is going to be interviewing elderly folks who survived the attacks on the World Trade Center and like me, he/she will have no inkling of what it was like that day.

Well, gotta go wrap a gift. I have a holiday party at a friend's tomorrow after work. She and her fiance are doing one of those white elephant gift exchanges. I'll just be gifting what I received last year. :P

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I spoke to Michael Jackson.

No, not that Michael Jackson. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I think I pointed out to just about anyone with half an ear that I was assigned to write about an illegal immigrant crossing into the border who stopped to help a 9-year-old boy whose mother had crashed the car.
Illegal immigrant rescues boy

I was working on it Friday up until I had to leave work for the airport. It made Yahoo! most popular stories for a while. I've rarely worked on anything that got so much attention. On Monday, I got a call that a talk radio host out of L.A. by the name of Michael Jackson--though he talks more like Robin Leach than "the Gloved One"--wanted to interview me for five minutes. I basically just rehashed the story and stuck to the facts as best I could. I'm sure I stuttered here and there. Unfortunately, when I called in to be on-air, I hadn't had a chance to catch up on the latest reports. So, I didn't know the boy and his mother's names had been released. I didn't say anything inaccurate; I just could have elaborated more. I often have these moments where I feel like a performer who's finally getting his chance on opening night and he trips a few times on stage, clumsily getting through his scenes. Oh well, someday, I'll be that poised, sophisticated woman I imagined I'd be. Anyway, made for a very out of the ordinary Monday.

Hmmm...I just found someone mention me by name on some right-wing blog. Figures I'd get a name drop on a blog with "lone wackos" in the URL. I helped two other reporters on a story last year about how Arizona voters were deciding who to vote for their Congressman/woman by interviewing people on the street in Scottsdale. According to this blogger, I'm another example of a MSM journalist who is pro-Democrat and pro-illegal immigration and can't be trusted. Writing articles, you put yourself out there to be dissected. But being on a conservative blogger's page just cracks me up. Those wacky right-flying folks.

I went to a special speed training session with my marathon group at a local high school track. I want to trim more time off my runs if I can. Also, I felt guilty about the high-calorie fest I had over Thanksgiving. I'm sure I gained weight. But boy, this speed training is kicking my ass. You have to run at 80 percent of your fastest effort. And when you get to that point where your momentum peters out but you still have to round the curve and get to the finish line, your sides hurt like HELL. I shopped at Trader Joe's after. Through the whole shopping, I still felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. This exercise is supposed to get you out of your comfort zone. Man, why can't I stay in the comfort zone? In fact, I'm ready to book a suite there.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Meet the eighth dwarf: Mopey

Once in a while, if I'm really frustrated, I fantasize about somehow being able to look down at the Earth, the stars, the moon and anything that comprises the universe and wield a gigantic middle finger. This is one of those times.

Sorry if I sound like a real "female dog." But I feel like the last 10 days have been somewhat unlucky for me. I'd say incredibly unlucky, but all those people who lost their homes last week in San Diego County and in other parts of So Cal are going through such an ordeal. I can't imagine -- no home, no tangible mementos, almost like your past has been erased. It's because of them that I hope to pick myself up soon and be the big girl I know I can be.

Ever since I pushed myself to jog/walk two Saturdays ago, my shins haven't stopped feeling weird. They hurt pretty bad for the first four days. Today, not so bad but I feel a pulling or tugging sensation in both shins and I just want to know that's normal and nothing to worry about. I've been so psyched about doing this half-marathon. But now I've fallen a bit behind on the training. I have all these concerns that a) I may have done long-term damage to my legs, b)I won't be able to run in the half marathon at all. It's "b" that makes me tear up when I think about it too long. I'll feel like a big fat Failure if I don't get to run it. I wish I could rewind and start this whole process all over.

What else? Oh, a pair of sandals I wore a week ago have given me a rash. Unbeknownst to me, I'm allergic to the dye or something. So, it hurts to walk and the itching is driving me nuts. And this morning, I tried to open a package with a knife and I stabbed my left index finger. It wasn't like I needed to go to the ER but it was definitely more than a little nick. I found nothing in the medicine cabinet but an empty band-aid box. I about lost it. Anyway, I think I have to see a doctor and try to cheer up. I spent most of the weekend sequestered in my apartment with the blinds turned, practicing for my retirement as the grumpy and frumpy old lady who warns the neighborhood kids to get off my property.

Sigh...I don't even have the will to bake and it's Halloween. Doesn't matter. I don't have an audience to bake for. I'd just be stuck with like 8 cupcakes for myself. I don't like it when I'm like this. The things I don't like about Arizona and being here seem to get magnified five times.

Well, guess that's all for now. I need to go write to Santa and ask him for an improved attitude for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Story that comes in 'Spades'

When I woke up yesterday, I wasn't thinking "Gee, maybe I'll talk to David Spade today." Yes, David "Tommy Boy" Spade. Very random. I spotted an item on one of those gossip sites about him supposedly donating $25,000 to the family of a slain Phoenix police officer's family. So, I followed up on it and his publicist hooked me up with him over the phone.

He sounded pretty tired; he was in the middle of shooting an episode of "Rules of Engagement." So, it really was good of him to make time to speak with me. He's always had a soft spot for cops. Some crazed fan broke into his home in LA a few years ago. He very nonchalantly told me how they helped him when someone was trying to kill him. I didn't know how to reply to that.

Professionally, it was good for me as I had a spot story that went on the national wire and People magazine used it too (though the person who recast it for the site gave herself a byline...tsk, tsk). Here's a link to the story:
Comedian David Spade donates $25K to family of slain officer

I just got a reminder this morning that AP staffers who keep social networking sites or blogs need to be careful about what they discuss--no political affiliations or stands on controversial public issues or details of AP internal operations. So far, I think I've been pretty good about that. I'm a registered Independent. I stand for the two-party system--Friday and Saturday nights. Sorry, a cheesy joke I remember from a history/civics textbook. I haven't talked about my co-workers too much--not that there's a lot to say. I've only repeated things they were open about.

Oh, but I would think it's cool to put links to my stories. Speaking of, I just got paid for a feature story I pitched on girls PE incorporating self-defense classes. (Gym classes about playing it safe)
The extra money I made will cover my registration fee for the PF Chang's Rock N Roll Marathon.

My training so far has been going okay. I just need to watch my shins. So far, the longest I've run/walked is still 6.2 miles. There are times where I'm tempted to flake on days I'm supposed to run. I know this is silly but the way I remind myself to stay in check is once a week, I will put on this dress I have. I bought it like four or five years ago. I've never worn it because it's kind of fancy. I tried to put it on last December but the zipper just wouldn't close. In other words, my chest was too big. Well, last month, I found out it will now zip all the way (!) so I must have shed a bit somewhere, right? Anyway, I don't think it's shallow. This is about my health as well as fitting into said dress.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

See Terry run. See Terry get confused.

OK, I didn't actually get lost. I just overshot. Two weeks ago, I enrolled in this group that trains people for marathons. They specialize in helping first-timers like myself. I am working toward running/walking the half-marathon at the annual PF Chang's Rock & Roll Marathon in January. We meet every Saturday morning at 6 (groan) and run an assigned distance. We run along the Arizona Canal and certain streets are landmarks for certain distances. I was shooting to reach 36th Street, which marks around 2.5 miles so that I'd end up going 5 miles round trip. Well, I kept looking and looking and people even told me that I was almost there. Alas, the street isn't clearly marked since it runs through a residential area. So, I ended up going four blocks over to 40th Street. So, basically, I inadvertently ran/walked 6.2 miles. I know it's good to be able to do that but I felt kind of lame being the last one to get back to the starting point. The program runners want me to consider changing to the full marathon later on down the line. But I think for now, I'll be sticking to the half.

Well, I have to think of something to do this weekend. Last weekend, I got so bored that I ended up just surfing the Web. It seems like I know a lot of people getting engaged. That got me thinking about how they say you can get "ordained" on the Internet really easily. So, I researched it and I'm not sure how authentic this is, but I think I'm a reverend now--at least in the non-denominational Universal Life Church. I have a "certificate" but I won't be heading to any chapel any time soon.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Labor pains

Did I have a holiday this week? Sure doesn't feel like it. Twas a very long week in the AP universe. First off, I know I haven't written in a long time. It's just nothing interesting happened, nothing worth writing anyway. Labor Day was pretty boring. That was the start of a very long week of really dramatic news stories. Luckily I didn't have to go into work on Monday.

Last weekend, two girls in Kingman, Ariz. (which is near the Nevada-AZ border) were riding behind their dad in their own All-Terrain Vehicle when they landed in the bottom of a 125-foot deep mine. Unfortunately, the mine was abandoned and had never been marked or cornered off. The girls, 13 and 10, weren't found until Sunday morning. The 13-year-old, Rikki, was already dead. Casie, the 10-year-old, was miraculously alive. I heard the ATV had landed on top of her. The whole thing just, from top to bottom, was the definition of tragic. One of our reporters had to drive out to Kingman on Sunday evening to cover it, which is like a four hour drive from Phoenix.

Then on Wednesday morning, we found out two girls at a University of Arizona (which is in Tucson, two hours from here) dorm got into some sort of altercation. One apparently stabbed the other and was going to make it look like the victim had committed suicide. The victim had filed a police report against her, saying she had stolen her stuff. The whole thing is so unbelievable. These girls were academic achievers, both from the Navajo Nation, and school had only been in session for a few weeks. How things got so bad or how the suspect became so mentally undone...there are many questions. I learned they both had MySpace pages. Thus, I spent more time on MySpace over the last few days at work than I ever have in my life. I was trying to track down close friends and leaving them messages for interview requests. No takers. Can't really blame them. But at least my having a MySpace page came in handy.

The week of course was topped off by a verdict reading in the trial of Mark Goudeau, who's suspected of being the Baseline Killer (he's one of the people who's homes I had to sit in front of during a hot August day last year. Yeah, not happy about that assignment). He was on trial only for two sexual assaults. He still has murder charges to face. But we had every TV tuned to that and I had to run down to the County Attorney's office to get reaction from a prosecution standpoint. Anyway, Goudeau's wife has gone on and on about his innocence, despite the DNA evidence. The guy has a very shady past--that apparently she got over. He once, while on cocaine, robbed a store and hit a woman with a barbell. Back to the trial, he was found guilty on like 19 charges. My very cool co-worker Chris has been covering Goudeau from the beginning. A couple months ago, he had Goudeau's wife come into our office for an interview and he was very fair and decent to her. And Chris is also an easygoing guy. Well, after the verdict, he waited outside to catch her for comment. This is how it went:
Chris: "So, Wendy, any comment?"
Wendy: "Hey, Chris, f*** off!"
So for the rest of Friday afternoon, we were all laughing and saying "Hey Chris, f*** you!" I was like, "I think we have the toast for your rehearsal dinner" (Chris just got engaged).
Well, I am so very glad it is Saturday right now and I'm just hanging out here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Weekend is almost here!

A relatively benign week is almost at an end. Woo-hoo! It's nice having a walk in the park after the week of July 29-Aug. 4. At the beginning of that week, we had the helicopter crash, then an officer was gunned down trying to chase a guy cashing forged checks the next day and a man died from a stun gun after trying to perform an exorcism on his granddaughter. I don't know why so much weird stuff happens in Phoenix. What's more, some family and friends erected a memorial with flowers and candles for the grandfather. There was even a giant cross with "Thank you Ron" painted on and little notes of "We'll miss you." I mean, wouldn't they be too upset with him for...oh...I don't know...trying to strangle his 3-year-old granddaughter?! People are so odd.

Yesterday, I saw one of the worst article ledes. Ever. For those of you who don't know, a lede is just how a reporter opens a story. This was the lede for a story in a newspaper in Tucson on a growing trend of motorcycle deaths in Arizona:

"Six-month-old Evelyn Ausdemore will never know her grandfather, but she will learn he was part of a growing trend."

Not everything needs to be turned into a feature. It's sad when bad ledes happen to decent story subjects.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A taste of law & order (thunk, thunk)

I got home around 4pm today. Why so early? Well, it's all due to our country's justice system. Basically, I got called for jury duty. Amazing. Took YEARS before I was ever summoned in California. Even when I was, I called in and wasn't needed to come down. Sixteen months in Phoenix and boom! The courts get me. I was in a group that had to appear this morning at 8. At first, it was like going to traffic school. It's way early, nobody's very happy and we all sit in a room and watch a video. Talk about cheese. The video was about how the jury process is done in Arizona and how the state has a "good" judicial system but they would not settle for good, but work toward "great." Hence the original name for their "Good-to-Great" campaign.

Then the woman in charge of the assembly room said they were first looking for 50 prospective jurors to serve on a four-week trial! Luckily, 50 people said yes before she got down to calling my name. You could've answered yes or no. I would've said no and used the old "fear of loss of income" reason. Also, with my boss gone the next week and other people out, I don't think the newsroom could've taken my departure Monday-Thursday for four weeks.

Later on, I got a number on a card and was sent with about 44 others to go to a judge's chambers to be screened to sit on the panel for a home robbery case. So, we were all seated there and the judge introduced us to the bailiff, the court clerk, court recorder, prosecutor, defendant and defense attorney. Then he collectively asked us questions like if anyone had a compelling reason that they couldn't come back the next day if chosen, if they or a relative had ever been a victim of a burglary or other crime, if they had any family in law enforcement, etc. Then you hold up your card until the judge gets to you to hear your explanation. Everyone is addressed by their number for anonymity. Boy, you hear people disclose some really personal things. One woman said her daughter was shot five times by a boyfriend a few years ago. A man disclosed that he had been arrested two years ago for marijuana possession. Another guy said his girlfriend was arrested on a felony seven years ago, before they met. You feel kind of guilty for hearing such personal things but you can't help it.

There were some people you hoped would get excused because you'd hear things like how someone has to work two jobs, so getting time off is hard, or they have to care for an Alzheimer's-stricken mother. There was a woman who had to practically yell across the room that she didn't think she could come back the next day if she was picked because she was on medication that causes irritable bowels (yikes). And the judge said "I'm sorry, can you repeat that last word?"

After our lunch break, everyone had to stand up one at a time and answer a series of questions posted on a board on an easel. Basic questions--occupation, company name, years at job, marital status, children and if you've ever served on a jury. I wonder if I didn't get picked because I work for the media. Maybe they thought it wasn't a good idea to have someone who helps cover the news. Well, who knows. I'm just glad I don't have to miss work again. And I can rest knowing I did my civic duty and Maricopa County cannot bother me for another 18 months!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have been to the chocolate factory.

I am Charlie--metaphorically speaking of course. And I got to enter a really cool chocolate

Yesterday, I was cleaning out our general office wide e-mail box and I saw this press release. It was from a company called Chat, Chew & Chocolate. Don't ask about the name. It's some group that does all these girls-pamper-yourselves events like spa days. They had a paragraph about how this Phoenix bakery called Let Them Eat Cake still had spots open for a session of cake decorating classes that started tonight. Sitting in on a class at a Michael's arts & crafts store was one thing. But to do it in a real bakery was quite another. So, I decided to heck with the cost. I e-mailed them and had my first lesson this evening.

I had never been to this bakery before ( It has a pretty sweet set-up. One side is where all the cakes are. There's a space next door they dubbed Cupcake's Corner Cafe. It's decorated in a lot of pinks and reds, very inviting. When I got there, the teacher/owner, Barbara, took me back to the kitchen and I was like "You have no idea. I feel like I'm in Disneyland." And then she said "Guess what? You're the only one so you get a private lesson," which was fine with me. I thought it was nice of her to stay just for one person.

She made me practice piping with at least five different tips. I tried to make roses, seashells, stems, stars and beads. I of course definitely need to practice. Barbara said she's better at writing and drawing with icing than with a pen. What was also great is she was really personable. While I practiced, we chatted and I said I like making cakes but cupcakes are even better.

At the end of class, she told me to go pick out a cupcake (tee-hee). After some ruminating, I settled on a Boston Cream one. It was really yummy--vanilla pound cake with cream inside topped with bavarian cream and then dipped in a chocolate ganache. She took the cupcake back to the kitchen, pulled a stool out for me to sit on. I got to sit and eat it while flipping through a photo album of some of their cakes/cupcakes while she did all the cleaning up. I then told her she was just like Willy Wonka. I felt like a little kid sitting at an aunt's kitchen table. I probably looked like one when she came back from putting something away and glimpsed me licking the wrapper. What? I couldn't let any of the ganache go to waste! OK, yeah, that was sort of embarrassing. Courtesy cupcake aside, I'm looking forward to the next class.

In other news, last week, my boss, Ed, pulled me into the office. I was a little nervous at first. No matter what, it always,always feels like the principal is dragging me in. He spoke with the bureau chief and they discussed how there isn't much entertainment coverage based out of Arizona. He decided I should be the one to try to make that my beat because I've already done several features and I wrote pretty well. How funny is that? Ever since things didn't work out at my Entertainment Weekly internship in 2002, I never thought I'd get to do anything entertainment-related at a full-time job. It's just so hard to break into that. When I got here, I thought I'd just be helping with breaking news, writing obits and short news stories about fires, shootings or other calamities. But when I think about, yeah, I have done quite a few features. I guess I am destined to do that sort of writing, not so much Lois-Lane type stories. I'm cool with that. Ed wants me to build a list of celebs who are either from Arizona (Michelle Branch, Jordin Sparks, Alice Cooper) or who have homes here now (Mike Tyson, oh gosh, I can't think of anymore). He said maybe try every few weeks to do a story for a national audience. It doesn't have to be just about entertainment. It can be just anything you'd see in a paper's living section -- some kind of trend or pop culture thing. Man, I really want to take advantage of this opportunity. Oh, it's going to be really hard to decide when to leave Arizona.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Only in LA

What a cutie canine. His name is Lafite (pronounced La feet). He's a poodle.

So, I spent a mahvelous weekend in Los Angeles. Felt like a two-day birthday fest simply because of the company of close friends. Something sorely lacking in Phoenix. Anyway, on Sunday, I went with some old Daily Bruin cronies to lunch in Studio City at Vitello's. If it sounds familiar, it's the restaurant where Robert Blake was dining with his wife before she was shot. We were not in the booth where he allegedly forgot his gun. BTW, the food was pretty good. I had the Chicken alla Garry Marshall. However, Garry might be upset they misspelled his name.

After lunch, the four of us moved on to this coffee house down the street called Aroma. Great atmosphere and very popular. They have two patios and a little bookstore/stationery store area. Luckily the brunch/lunch crowd died down and we were able to grab a table. Well, the party of four next to us had Lafite. I hadn't noticed him lying next to my feet. Then I guess all four of them needed to go use the restroom or browse. All the ladies got up and asked the one guy who was going to watch him. The guy just turned to me and asked. Of course, I was like "Sure!" and ready to grab his leash. He was gone for about 10 minutes. For a second, I was like "He is coming back, right??" Anyway, I showed the guy the above picture when he arrived back. He said it was good and that Lafite is used to taking pictures. His owner is a photographer and Lafite has been on TV. Apparently he's made appearances on that cable show called "The Dog Whisperer." Never heard of it. But "only in LA" would you watch a pet that's been on TV. Sigh...

Other highlights from the weekend.

*My friend Jessica treated me to a performance at the Ahmanson Theater of "Jersey Boys." The show is the story of the rise and break-up of Frankie Valli and the other Four Seasons. You get to hear the actors croon hits like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man." It was awesome and the show won the Tony last year. If you haven't seen it, I strongly urge you to (David, if you're reading this, you'd really like it! ;) ). I think it's also playing in San Francisco this summer.

*Cupcakes! It surprised me how many cupcake places there are in LA. I hit one called Dainties. Excellent. Excellent. The cupcakes are made with either Devil's food or vanilla. But the icing comes in all different flavors. And they put the icing inside like a hostess cupcake. It's just heaven in a pastry. I got raspberry chocolate, vanilla bean, tiramisu and mango. The lady behind the counter must've really loved how much I enthused on the cupcakes because she threw in a caramel one. And being LA, this place also caters to a lot of movie and TV sets i.e. "Two and a Half Men," "The Tyra Banks Show" and apparently Avril Lavigne will only buy cupcakes from there. Check out Dainties. Honestly, show me beautiful cupcakes and I'll fold like Japanese origami.

*Jessica and our friend/old roomie Sunanda and her husband Rich -- we all went to this bar/lounge called Nikki's in Venice Beach. Great happy hour appetizers. Not talking peanuts and nachos but quesadillas, ahi tuna burgers and sweet potato fries. Anyway, after, us girls waited outside for Rich. A customer came out to introduce himself. Big, pudgy black guy with short dreadlocks and wore a dirty blue T-shirt and black pants. His name was Malibu. He tried to convince us to come out for fireworks on the 4th at Venice. Promised he'd be there with platinum hair on. When he took off his hat, a piece of bar napkin wrapped around something fell off his head. Must've been a joint as he quickly stooped down to pick it up: "Can't lose that!"

Only in L.A.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Birthday Blahs

Aw crap. My birthday is this Thursday. As you can tell, I am not anticipating it with much excitement. I'm talking about the actual day. The weekend will be good as I'm going to Los Angeles. I will hook up with the usual gang of college buddies--and hopefully hit some good cupcake bakeries. I guess I'm being a sourpuss because I'm turning 29 and I wish I could be in my twenties for a few more years. I just remember when this age seemed really, really far a galaxy-long-long-ago far away. I'm not sure where I pictured myself at this age but definitely not in Arizona! I think that's another reason why I feel very gripey (that's not a word, is it?). I know the day will be boring as I have to work and I am in a place that I don't consider home. And nobody here knows me very well. And I'm certainly not going to go around asking for b-day attention like a hobo with a tin cup.

I was thinking about what kind of birthday present I would want. Just for fun...something really out of the ordinary. For example, I would love to spend a day behind the scenes of a bakery or cupcakery and see what it takes to run one and get to use their piping tips and frosting to decorate a few that will actually go up for sale. I actually did write to a bakery here in Phoenix but I never heard back from them. I guess you have to know the owner; they just won't let in your average Joe. (If anyone out there knows a bakery owner, get me in!) Or I would love to have a few lessons in hip hop dancing with a real choreographer. The woman I go to now is okay. But there's no structure and after a while, I feel like I'm learning the same steps in a different order. I'm sure it's not completely true. What else? I wish I could either get a lesson in entertaining or cooking from Martha Stewart herself (yeah, I know she must be anal and nutty, but's Martha!). Maybe someday I can go attend a taping of her show. Another fantasy gift would be to be an extra on the set of the "Superman" sequel or a "Harry Potter" film. Actually, I'd trade Harry Potter for a sit-down with J.K. Rowling. Get free lessons in photography so I could shoot pictures to go with my stories. A free trip to Spain. I guess now that I'm older, I don't care about things but rather...experiences. OK, things can be a nice pick-me-up too.

I remember back in high school, almost every birthday, I got something Disney or Winnie-the-Pooh related from almost everyone I knew. Now, I'm not knocking anything I was given because I was lucky people actually thought of me. But I was kind of like "Is that all people think I'm interested in?" It was at that point, I made a mental note to always keep an open mind for other interests, whether it be hobbies, culture, pop culture, food, etc. I don't want to be associated with one thing. And luckily, I did grow out of the Disney thing more or less. Pooh is still a presence which I'm fine with. However, I draw the line at wearing Pooh (ooh, that sounds weird) except for socks because those are more subtle.

Anyway, I'll just be happy if on Thursday, I do NOT get sent outside for an assignment and it's like 110 degrees. That. Would. Suck. For whomever is reading this, the next time you see me, share what your "fantasy" birthday gift(s) would be. I'd be curious to know.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The girl who came back from Ipanema

I've been back from Brazil for almost six days now. Despite how dirty Sao Paulo and Rio were, I do miss both cities. Yes, perhaps my nostalgia is augmented by how much beef and seafood I ate. But gawd, the weather. I'd do anything to be able to capture that in a bottle and spread it around Phoenix. More humidity and never hotter than 80 degrees. Now, I'm back a dry 100-plus climate. BOO!!

Anyway, here were some of the highlights for me:

-For our first half of the trip in Sao Paulo, my mom's second cousin who has lived there for 30 years was basically our guide and chauffeur for the entire time. "Uncle" (just easier if I call him that) drove us from place to place, led us on the metro and fought for and won the bill for every meal. Talk about generous. He was always very sweet with a smidge of eccentricity, hehe. For my family who might be wondering, his father and my mom's mom were first cousins. But he knew relatives on the paternal side of my mom's family. In fact, I think he shared living space for a while with either Third Uncle or Sixth Uncle (Kenneth's dad).

-Uncle's driving. He would so fit the Asian driver stereotype if he were in the U.S. Most Brazilians, from what I saw, drive pretty aggressively. But his driving was on a different level. He got lost one night trying to take Mom and I back to our hotel. At one point, he stopped in the middle of an intersection to ponder his next move. Luckily, few cars were around. When it ocurred to him where to go, Uncle backed up...and kept backing up. He drove in reverse for a block and then around a corner, LOL.

-Our second day in Sao Paulo, Uncle showed up at our hotel with two cardboard trays. He had so many gifts he wanted Mom to bring back for relatives in California, it took him almost 10 minutes to explain what was what and for whom. Mom was laughing hysterically because she didn't know how she was going to back four rocks and a jewelry box among other things in her luggage.

-Meeting Uncle's son, Marcelo. Apparently, Marcelo and I must've met when he visited the Bay Area in 1993. According to mom, he came to our house for dinner, which he remembers. But I can't. My 15-year-old self was probably thinking that Marcelo, who is now 37, and I wouldn't have anything in common. This time, we sort of bonded as he actually speaks English and he helped show us around. When he were there, he was in the middle of moving to Toronto. He literally got on a Canada-bound plane the night before Mom and I did. Poor Uncle, had the double whammy of saying bye to his son and then to us. But at least I have someone who can show me around Toronto!

-Every restaurant offering not only your standard orange juice (freshly squeezed or with sugar) but flavors like pineapple, passionfruit, guava, mango, watermelon and strawberry.

-The service at a lot of these restaurants surprised me. Talk about attentive. And it's so convenient how the gratuity is already added on your bill (it's always 10 percent). We had wonderful service at this pizza restaurant (best pizza I've had I think). One medium size pizza plus three bottles of mineral water and gratuity cost us $17 USD.

-Going to a dinner theater show on the history of Brazil (a cheesy tourist event akin to taking in a show in Vegas but with even more feathery costumes -- see the picture below) and seeing tour groups from Japan and India go a little crazy.

-On our last day in Rio, where we stayed on Copacabana Beach, both my mom and I had the same idea at the same time on how to pass the last half hour before our ride to the airport shows up: let's go walk along the beach by the restaurant where all the hookers supposedly congregate to look for clients. Sometimes my mom surprises me!

Anyway, off to go write captions for the pictures I decided to post.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stitching but no bitching

Sheesh, I haven't written since May 18. But as you can see from my last entry, very jam-packed week. Memorial Day weekend was no less busy as I was trying to put together my cousin Tina's baby shower while also preparing my gift. My urge to do something handcrafted has led me to vow to never say anything negative about the Arizona Republic newspaper--at least its marketing department.

A few days before I was to fly back for the shower, which was on May 27, I went to the Republic to show my emerging knitted baby blankie to my friend Alyson. As I was displaying it, this matronly woman walks through the office and comments on how beautiful my blanket looks. I bitch about how I need to buy a whole new ball of yarn just to finish up the corner. Out of the blue she says, "Tell you what. Go buy your yarn, finish up your blanket and give me the rest. I'll have a pair of booties and maybe even a matching hat in an hour." I thought she was kidding. But the next day, I realized I had all this extra fleece yarn. So, I went back to the Republic but I couldn't find her. Alyson hadn't met her before. All we know is that her name is Diane. We go through the staff directory and there are like seven Dianes. We consider calling one of them and bluntly asking if she knits booties. I finally just agree to leave the yarn with Alyson, who promises to track Diane down. I say goodbye and get into the elevator to go down to the lobby. It stops after one floor, the doors open and voila! There is Diane. She says to me, "Hi. Remember me?" Um...yeah, I've only spent the last 20 minutes looking for you. So, in short, I tell her Alyson has my yarn but I won't hold her to her offer. I get a call from Alyson the next morning, the day before I need to fly out of Phoenix, saying there is an adorable pair of booties and hat waiting for me on her desk. See the entire cutesy set below:

I even showed these to my boss. He was definitely amazed; I'm probably the first AP employee to go to a subscribing newspaper and come out with knitted products. Yes, I can't say anything bad about the Republic. The interval of time Diane, who works in marketing, took and the quality of the work is stunning. I would have been a knit-wit (pun intended) to not act on her offer.

OK, I'm not sure when I'll be here next. I am off to Brazil tomorrow. YIPEE!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Strange day at work

An hour into work yesterday, my boss tells me to go out and "find an illegal immigrant." No, the AP has not decided to find cheap labor. The national desk was working on a story on reaction to the proposed bill the Senate is discussing this week, a "touchback" system for illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship. I don't think it's going to persuade a lot of them, however. I mean requiring a $5,000 fee and to return home and wait eight to 13 years. Not exactly ideal conditions. Anyway, I had to go get the opinion of an actual illegal immigrant, which meant finding one who would talk to me. So, where did I go to fulfill this quest? Why, Home Depot of course.

I went out to the parking lot of a Home Depot supply store near my old place and sure enough, there were like 10 Mexicans waiting for work. At first they all came toward me out of curiosity. As soon as I explained I was a reporter, more and more began to walk away. Can't say I blame them. I had to talk to them really loud over the noisy traffic and, switching from Spanish to English, assure them we were not out to report anyone. I just needed someone's opinion. I ended up meeting a nice 56-year-old from Morelos, Mexico named Daniel. Another guy, Jorge, interpreted Daniel's answers for me. It was interesting talking to them and of course, I felt fortunate that I did not feel such a need for financial gain, that I would make a risky journey into another country. I don't want to get political but let me just say I understand Daniel's perspective.

The day still goes down as strange because in the afternoon, my boss informed me I would have a small but pivotal role in covering an execution. Next Tuesday at 10 a.m.., Arizona is scheduled to hold its first execution in 20 years. A man guilty of repeated raping a woman and killing a man at a camp site in 1987 will get taken out by lethal injection. Another reporter--even younger than me but much more savvy--will be covering and witnessing the actual execution at death row. But the media there won't be able to get to their phones for about 30 minutes because they aren't allowed to. There will be a media staging area in the prison nearby where phones are allowed. That's also where a corrections officer will come out as soon as the execution has occurred and inform everyone. So, I need to be in that room to call the office as soon as that happens so they can put out an urgent news alert on the wire. That's pretty much all I'll be there to do. And to top off the wierdness, I might have to help with "American Idol" coverage that day. What a juxtaposition. My boss says "executions and 'American Idol,' two things that happen no matter what."

Jordin Sparks, one of two remaining contestants, is from Glendale, Ariz. She has also become a "beat" for me. I had to write a profile on her and wait outside last Friday in 100-degree heat for her to show up at a very staged hometown visit put on by Fox. I think Jordin is great and deserving of praise. I just think the PR machine around her is disturbing. At that visit, I thought I was going to puke after seeing how much was about catering for the cameras of the local Fox affiliate. The whole thing was just too slick. Though I'm far from an "American Idol" addict, at least the coverage got me a chance to go on the national wire.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yah for the Bay!

How funny that I've been staying up late to watch Conan O'Brien to get a taste of home, or the Bay Area in general. Conan is broadcasting his show from the Orpheum Theater in SF this week. I had to watch at least his first show Monday night. Here are some of the jokes from his monologue (a bit rocky at first):

After entering on a small-scale version of the Golden Gate Bridge: "How's that for a replica? We had a replica of the Bay Bridge, but it collapsed."

"San Francisco--the only city where marijuana is legal but plastic bags aren't."

"Mayor Newsom sent me some flowers. Very nice. When I called to thank him, he said they were really for my wife."

He did really funny comedy bits from Coit Tower ("I'm just going to run up inside because it looks like a giant penis."), Washington Square where all the elderly Chinese do Tai Chi (he actually tried to do a fan dance exercise) and my favorite, Chinatown where nobody recognized him. He ended with the most important attraction of all--besides the transgender, TransAmerica pyramid--the house from "Full House." It was especially amusing--and a tad creepy--when Bob Saget actually answered the door. I'm glad SF is getting a nice shot of publicity from Conan.

Speaking of Chinese attractions...I was flipping through today's Arizona Republic. They just put out their "Best of" Calendar issue where they publish readers' votes for every kind of food, drink and entertainment place. I saw for Best Chinese Restaurant that P.F. Chang's was a runner-up. Are you freaking kidding me???!! And another runner-up was this place called Flo's which looks like an upscale restaurant that markets to non-Chinese. The winner was a place called China Chili that is actually run by a Chinese man. Still, I ate there a couple weeks ago. The food wasn't any better than Great Wall, the place owned by my aunt. Metro Phoenix's idea of Chinese food again reminds me of why this place has a long way to go before it can match the cosmopolitan feel of San Fran.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Working on frivolity during tragedy

At work, I always have what the AP calls "the A wire" open on our internal network on the computer. The A wire carries all national stories. They are in black except if stories are marked "urgent" or are news alerts, they are in red. On Monday, I saw a quick news alert that said 1 person killed and 20 others wounded in a shooting at Virginia Tech. There was one before that that said 1 person killed, 8 wounded. I hate to say it, but I didn't think much except how fortunate it was that only 1 person died. Then less than 30 minutes later, I saw another headline in red that said "21 dead, 20 wounded." And know what the final numbers were. The shock of seeing those stats change. I was horrified and in disbelief.

I felt silly working on my assignment for the day: Last week, our New York City bureau covered a Queens couple who planned to take the longest taxi ride of their lives by hailing a cab tomove to Sedona, Ariz. It ran under Odd News. It got a lot of attention from New York press and media in other countries. At first, we were just going to arrange for a photographer to shoot them as they arrived in Sedona. But then the NYC bureau asked us to follow up with the couple, Bob and Betty Matas, as soon as they reached Sedona. Well, guess who had the fun task of interviewing them on the phone from Phoenix? As people were trying to get information about the carnage at Virginia Tech, I was speaking to the Matases about how their cats, Cleopatra and Pretty Face, survived the road trip. Anyway, I realize that was my job and this sort of story was interesting to people. But, I just had the Virginia Tech community in the back of my mind as I was working on it.

I am not exaggerating about the interest in Bob and Betty, however. Simply Google my name with "taxi cab," and you'll see my story ran in a lot of major newspapers and I made Yahoo!'s front page. Here's a link:
NYC couple complete 2,500-mile cab ride
And I have to say, quirky is fun to work on. This was figuratively and literally an assignment off the beaten news path.

BTW, I was one of those Asian Americans who, upon first hearing the gunman described as a young man of Asian descent, said "Oh crap!" Not that I would enjoy finding out he was of some other nationality or race. It's just, I think for Asians living in the U.S., we are used to being underrepresented. To be publicly "represented" in one of the worst ways imaginable, you can't help but feel a bit of shame, as though this psycho is a distant relative. And I too worry somewhat about backlash in the form of hate crimes against Asians. But at the end of the day, "we" have nothing to feel bad about because "we" are not responsible. And any sane person of any creed, race, religion or nationality will know that too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Nuts about cupcakes

I ventured into cupcake-land again and attempted to make peanut butter cupcakes shaped and frosted to look like peanut shells. I'd say my presentation needs work. I mean, if I have to explain to people what the cupcake is supposed to look like...well at least they are somewhat close. Too bad my mixer overheated and now is unusable! The things one does in the pursuit of baking.

The culinary experiment wasn't a complete dud. I discovered the joy of tips--I don't mean post-meal money though those are always good. Tips for piping out icing. This is the first time I used one because usually, I get lazy about putting on frosting. But it was fun squeezing the piping bag and making a big, gooey mess. The artistic possibilities also make the whole frosting thing pretty invigorating. I plan to expand my tip repertoire some day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No idling on 'Idol'

The latest "hard-news" story the bureau had me working on yesterday was a piece on "American Idol," namely the contestant from Glendale, Ariz. Jordin Sparks. A name that will be part of my consciousness for a while. She's pretty talented and she's only 17 years old!

I wish her much success. However, is it wrong that the lazy part of me wouldn't mind if she didn't make it to the top two? This means I will have to cover her and the show for a loooong time to come. I know, you guys probably think it's strange since I'm Ms. Entertainment Reporting. But I just never have been able to get into "American Idol." Sometimes it's so manufactured and ridiculous. Mediocre performers get their 15 minutes and that bugs me. And not that I don't think Jordin deserves success, but the idea that I may have to forego my Tuesday night at the shelter to drive an hour in traffic to Glendale to attend one of the city's viewing parties...I'd rather go to the dentist. And I'll probably have to go cover some cheesy events when she comes back after the show's over. Don't these winners always get things like a day named in their honor, a key to the city, a Swiss bank account, etc.

Here's a link to my story. It's a profile on Jordin, how the city has been promoting her and the Jordin loyalists--they're not all tween girls!

Fans wish Idol contestant sweet success

Monday, March 26, 2007

Another scoop?

So, my mom told me last week that a piece of mail came for me back home in Sunnyvale from...drum roll please...Dreyer's Ice Cream! They sent the same letter as last year more or less inviting me or any of my friends and family to enter to win one of 1,500 prizes for a neighbhorhood ice cream party. Should I try to be three for three? Should I crush the Slow Churned Rocky Road dreams of some 7-year-old?

Honestly, I'm starting to think there is no real competitive element. It's probably like a "Simpsons" episode and there are people in suits in some back room of Dreyer's corporate office talking in nasally voices, going "Hey Harry, who else can we send this genetic ice cream--possibly seasoned with radioactive substances--and get some feedback for marketing while we're at it." And really, do I need 12 gallons of ice cream? On the other certainly wouldn't hurt to be able to offer it to my neighbors--back home in Sunnyvale--again. Oh, the agony of deciding!

Hmmm...if I were to win and hold a party again, how could I top the fire department showing up--with two engines! Maybe I should just make my cousin's 8-year-old daughter enter and I'll just "proofread" what she writes. Oh well, I got time to decide.

Speaking of ice cream, I believe April 17 is the day Ben & Jerry's gives out free ice cream. Don't know if Baskin Robbins still does it. OK, I know way too much. Maybe if the journalism thing doesn't work out, I should go to Dreyer's and plead for a job.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chinese parents and boys' names

I am really trying hard not to come across as stereotyping. So, I'll just say I have noticed a trend, if you will, of Chinese parents picking really offbeat names for sons. Am I the only who wonders about this? It's like they are worried about the ramifications of saddling their baby boys with ethnic, hard-to-pronounce names. So, they go and choose what they think are "American" names but they're names I've never heard of before that instance. Some examples:

-When I was 5, I had to go to Chinese dance class every Saturday. There were three boys in the teen class: Tedman, Wyman (they were brothers) and Waymond. Nothing against these guys. In fact, Waymond went on to become a doctor and was a big help a few years ago when I had an eyebrow waxing gone terribly, terribly wrong.

-When I was 10, I went to a Fourth of July bbq at my aunt's house. I met these 16-year-old twin boys. One was named Evers. I'd never heard of that name. Still you can't really go wrong or right there. I don't think anything goes that well with the last name Ding.

-Michelle Kwan's personal physician: Leisure Yu

-UC Berkeley law professor I once saw being interviewed on the news: Goodwin Liu

-A well-renowned ASU professor in real estate: Crocker Liu

-Johnson. Need I say more?

-When I moved out here to Phoenix, I met a bunch of distant third cousins including my cousin, Manton.

-The most recent example: Last week, I got someone else's mail in my mail box. Yesterday, when I got home, I saw the postal woman, who happened to be Asian. I saw an opportunity to get rid of this misplaced letter. This is how our conversation went after I handed it to her:

"Excuse me, this isn't mine."
"This isn't yours?"
"My box is 219. This says #321."
"But you are the only one here with the last name Tang."
"Well, that isn't mine."
"Are you sure it's not yours?"
"My name is not Roosevelt!"

I should have pointed out that my name is the name that's on the five other pieces of mail she stuck in my box the last few days.

Well, I suppose what's important is names don't matter to the guys themselves. Would a Crocker or a Leisure by any other name get pestered less to clean his rice bowl and find a good wife?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A what festival?!

What do pigs and Rick Springfield have in common? ... They were both at the Chandler Ostrich Festival which is where I spent my Saturday evening. (If this were a news article, that would be one lousy lead-in) And it turned into a day of firsts--the first time I heard "Jesse's Girl" live and the first time I ate an ostrich burger. Not bad. Juicy.

The suburb of Chandler, which is just 20 minutes away from central Phoenix, drew a pretty big crowd for this festival. A new friend/acquaintance of mine, Lauren, suggested we check it out. We made it for the 5pm ostrich races. I didn't realize there were people out there who practiced being "jockeys" on these 400-pound birds. Just like horse racing, you have to weigh under a certain weight to ride these creatures.

Needless to say, the whole event was very offbeat. First off, everyone affiliated with the company that travels with the ostriches, emus and pigs sounded like they just stepped out of an episode of "Beverly Hillbillies." The races were pretty funny to watch--as you can tell from the picture below. All the ostriches had cheesy names like "Love Bird" and "Dixie Chick" (whose jockey made a very bad joke about how everyone wants to ride a Dixie Chick). Between races, they had kid volunteers come out and chase emus and chickens around the track. The last race was a camel race. Don't know if you can tell from the picture below, but they had the camel jockeys dress like Arab sheiks and gave the jockeys stupid, un-PC names. One of the jockeys was actually called Mohammed. Oh no they didn't!

Lauren was a good sport and consented to hanging out for Rick Springfield to play at the main stage at 8:30 p.m. I think I was 4 at the height of his 1980s teen idolatry. Still, he's a part of pop culture. And I can't resist pop culture. The man is still pretty good looking 20 years later. And he knows how to work a crowd. But seriously, how did the city of Chandler get him to come? How do you craft a written plea to someone asking them to play an ostrich festival? "Dear Mr. Springfield, We think you would be a great name to put on our talent marquee at the Chandler Ostrich Festival. " I'm sure he thought it would be quite the feather in his cap. Apologies for the bad joke.

Overall, I had a very quirky weekend, which is way better than a boring one. I had forgotten what it's like to hang out one-on-one with someone--who is a girl. I can socialize with people pretty easily, but changing them from acquaintances to friends, that's a hard step. Here's hoping there are more in the future--but perhaps not involving exotic animals.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New airport technology

I've reached a new story made the most e-mailed list on Yahoo! news. This morning, I covered the debut of a new X-ray scanner being tested at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The story went on the national wire. It was actually kind of fun near the end when they actually began using it on people. The important thing is if I'm going to be stuck at an airport for four hours, it's not because of a delayed flight but for a real purpose.

Security scanner can see through clothes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Straight to the Lord!

Last month, before I got so sick and then caught up in moving, I meant to post this story I wrote on an 11-year-old Iraqi boy named Hussein. Meeting him was definitely an experience I'll carry around with me for a while. What an amazing little man. He picked up English within his first few months in America. He is polite, rambunctious and funny. And he and I both share a love of Green Day!

Iraqi boy gets new cornea, prosthesis in Phoenix

On a light-hearted note, check out how this guy managing a Christian bookstore in Scottsdale kicked some ass during an attempted robbery!
Manager foils robbery by slamming man's hand in cash drawer
One of the most hilarious stories I've read.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I did it all by myself!

This is probably nothing for most people who have a flair for assembling stuff. But, I am patting--nay, slapping--myself on the back. I put the frame for the futon you see together without any help. OK, so it took me a couple of hours. With only one pair of hands, things kept slipping when I tried to screw them in. There was nobody around to hold it for me. OK, this might have been my second night working on this futon. I bought it for $99 from these guys who "import" furniture (if the word import can apply to bringing things in from CA) mainly because they said they'd be willing to drop it off at the buyer's residence. So yesterday, I dashed home during my lunch hour and this guy named Louie shows up in a very shabby Buick-like car with the box with all the frame parts tied to the roof. But Louie turned out to be pretty nice. He assured me ANYBODY could put the frame together. Sure didn't feel like it last night. I only did Step 2 out of four steps and I was having such a hard time, I found myself having a dialogue with God, asking him why I was so tool-challenged.

So, I felt all the more accomplished when I finished a couple of hours ago. Also felt a little dorky because I jumped up and down going "I did it! I did it! And...nobody else is here." Still, it was a nice feeling. All my life, I've usually waited for someone else i.e. my dad to jump in and do things like dismantle my bed and put it back together in whatever apartment I was moving into during my college years. It's kind of cool seeing what little challenges living solo brings you. Anyway, pictures of my new digs to come.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sick and tired of being sick

Not all blog entries have to be cheerful little cups of sunshine. I need a space to bitch about how I am sick--AGAIN! I have virtually lost my voice, my throat hurts and my nose has been so stuffed, I couldn't fall asleep last night. I feel like I've tried everything--Tylenol, throat spray, theraflu, syrup--nothing works. It hurts so much and I've fallen behind on my packing.

I want. To. Die.

I hate Phoenix. I hate the weather. I hate the air. I hate how you go from a really hot outside to a freezing inside because of the AC or vice-versa during the winter. I think the ventilation system is one cause for some of my illnesses.

I just can't believe how many times I've gotten sick since moving out here. Let's count, shall we?

July--Dehydration, fever, urinary tract infection.
August & September--ongoing viral thing where I always felt dizzy, sleepless and nauseous
October--fever with flu-like symptoms
December--urinary tract infection--again!
Jan--sore throat, allergies followed by what I have right now.

You can bet I'm never putting down roots here or retiring here. I'll probably die before I get social security. Sometimes I think this city is the worst thing to ever happen to me. Of course I'll probably change my mind whenever I get better. Right now, this sick, bitchy Terry needs to say her peace.

I better have a year of no illnesses in my future!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ali--still The Greatest for many

Yesterday, Jan. 17, was Muhammad Ali's 65th birthday and I got to see the birthday boy--thanks to work.

At 4p.m., AP's sports department in NY called my boss, Ed, and told him they got word from Billy Crystal's publicist that Billy would salute Ali on stage that night while performing his one-man show, "700 Sundays" at Arizona State. See, we only found out that Ali now lives in a very ritzy enclave of metro Phoenix called Paradise Valley. His move out here was pretty much under the radar. The presentation would happen during intermission between 8:30 and 9 p.m.

Poor Ed had to call around for a photographer. So, our staff photographer had to quickly drive straight from Tucson, two hours away, to get to ASU. After calling a couple of people in our already understaffed bureau, he asked me to go.

In a nutshell, I ended up waiting almost an hour in a sound booth behind the orchestra section at the Gammage Theater for an event that took five minutes. You can see the result here:
Billy Crystal serenades Ali on birthday

I wasn't a happy camper that I had to work late. But I'll admit, afterwards, when I processed everything I saw and the amazement from the theatergoers I interviewed, a part of me was kind of stoked that I got to see an icon like Ali. And it was pretty cool to see and hear 1,000-plus audience sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

The weirdest thing to come out of all this is that I made the AP sports wire. Dude, I suck at catching, kicking and running. The only thing I throw is garbage and that usually doesn't make it into the basket.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A New Year is here now

And with that comes the usual catalogue of resolutions--eat healthier, be nicer, yadda yadda. Here were some of the resolutions I made for myself.

1) Find my own place. Not that I don't appreciate my current living situation, but I feel like having been here nine months and getting the lay of the land, I'm ready to graduate.
Hmmm...well...what do you know?! Done! Yes, I'm in the midst of reading over a lease for a one-bedroom condo that I've verbally agreed to rent. It's only a few miles from where I'm at now. But the neighborhood, dubbed the Biltmore, is a little more upscale. In other words, I won't be able to give a crime scene tour. It's a pretty nice complex. I'll be on the second floor and my balcony overlooks the swimming pool. There's also a fitness center. I guess making use of that is my second resolution, (see below) hehe. I think my most favorite part is that I will have a washer/dryer in my place. Yeah, my rent will spike but get what you pay for. Anyway, I'll be living there starting Feb. 1. I will be sure to send out a mass e-mail with my new address.

2) Do more physical activity. Yeah, I'm not sure if I want to join a gym. But today I will be starting the first of 10 hip hop dance classes. I saw an ad on craigslist for a teacher out in Mesa which is about 25 minutes away from me. Thank goodness it's only her kiddie classes that she asks to perform in the spring.

3) Cook and eat healthier. I know that may sound funny from the person who keeps winning ice cream but I'm really going to try and prepare my own food and lay off the junk.

4) Travel somewhere. Anywhere. The last time I went anywhere abroad was January 2005 when I went to Thailand, Japan and Cambodia. The last 18 months was spent job hunting. And after that, the only outside-CA trip I took was in April 2005 to...Phoenix! Argh!! This year, I'm determined to go somewhere off this continent.

5) Get one freelance assignment published. I don't care if it's for some little 'zine that prints copies out of someone's garage. I miss doing features. I'd like to have one feature/essay published in a magazine.

Guess that's it for now. These "resolutions" may evolve over the course of the year. But who can predict. And really, isn't that part of the fun?